Raleigh Inspectors at Home on the Road
Posted March 21, 2007
Raleigh, N.C. — City building inspectors have traded in their cubicles downtown to spend their workdays in their trucks in order to handle a growing number of inspections.
New-home construction increased 25 percent between 2000 and 2005. Also, every new home in Raleigh has to be checked 13 times—more often if a home doesn't pass one or more inspections—before it can be occupied.
Because Raleigh hasn't increased its number of inspectors to keep up with the surging demand, all 50 inspectors have taken to the road to finish inspections more quickly.
"We wanted to get more efficient service, quicker service, and we wanted to be flexible," inspections supervisor Curt Willis said.
Inspectors like Jackie Newsome are given wireless access and assigned to areas near their homes. All work can be monitored from the central office.
"It's just a time-saver for everyone," Newsome said. "We're closer to the job site. They don't have to come out here (from downtown) to check it."
Eliminating paperwork and driving saves each inspector about two hours a day, officials said, meaning at least 100 additional inspections can be completed each day.
Willis said the move also saves the Inspections Department on gas.
Raleigh's inspectors conduct as many as 150,000 inspections each year, and officials said they expect that to grow between 2 percent and 5 percent annually.
The Inspections Department is the first to go office-less in Raleigh, and officials said the next step is to install Global Positioning System devices in many of their trucks.